College Beat:  Serving Others 

By Rocio Ruiz Lopez
University of Portland
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

 As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and an immigrant myself, attending college after high school was always my goal. Growing up, my family instilled the value of helping others, and we often dedicated time to giving back to the community. A constant drive to serve others and an interest in the medical field led me to pursue a degree in nursing. I grew up in a small rural town with a population of 3,000 people, so attending the University of Portland (UP) fit my desire to attend college in a large city, but not too far from home. Starting college was daunting because I did not know anyone attending UP, so I enrolled in the pre-orientation programs where I met people with similar backgrounds who became my closest friends. 

 I was fortunate to study abroad in London throughout the summer of 2019. It was an incredible experience. I visited various museums, galleries, and historical buildings, including the British Museum, the National Gallery, and Windsor Castle. Some of my favorite memories include watching a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe, visiting Dover Castle on my birthday, punting at Cambridge University, and climbing the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral to witness breathtaking views of London. Studying abroad allowed me to experience a different culture, learn new perspectives and develop cross-cultural awareness. 

Coming from a multilingual family, I love learning languages. As a language enthusiast, I obtained a minor in French. I also pursued my love for music and theater. In addition to my nursing and French course load, I took voice and piano lessons and a couple of theater classes. I found myself taking 21 credits the majority of the time. Despite a full course load, I remained involved in student clubs, held leadership positions such as treasurer for Music Club and Circle K International, volunteered as a student mentor, and participated in other extracurricular activities. Upon reflecting, I’m still surprised at how I managed to balance everything with three jobs, as it was not easy. I struggled with burnout. There were times when I felt indifferent about many things and was mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. I sometimes felt as if I had little to no time for self-care. Being a student during the pandemic, I battled with screen fatigue, stayed engaged, and felt disconnected. 

To cope with burnout, I knew I had to set realistic goals and prioritize my health and well-being. 

With many tasks, I set goals that I knew I would be able to accomplish daily. I also set aside time for rest and self-care, which helped abundantly. However, I had to accept that I have limitations, and pushing myself to the limit could increase burnout and negatively affect my health and ability to accomplish my goals. 

As a first-generation Latina college student, I encountered various experiences, challenges, and successes that have contributed to my personal and professional development. I graduated from the University of Portland on April 30th. I am very proud of myself and couldn’t have done this without the support and encouragement I received from my family, friends, and community. I am currently studying for the NCLEX, and for my next journey, I will be working in France as an English Teaching Assistant for the upcoming school year.